Role of Indian Classical Music in Treating Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

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Neelima Chauhan Purva Gujar-Kale Mahesh Kale


The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (ADRD) is on rise all around the globe with limited treatment options. Current symptomatic pharmacological treatments are modestly effective and are associated with adverse side effects. Therefore, there is an increased interest in validating non-pharmacological alternatives to treat AD/ADRD. One of such alternatives is music therapy which has recently picked up an upsurge not only in treating mental disorders but also other disparities. Many systematic reviews and meta-analyses using PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, and Cochrane database searches have revealed that music-based interventions successfully improved mood, depression, anxiety, verbal fluency, gait/motor abnormalities, autobiographic and episodic memory, and cognition, in neurological disorders including AD/ADRD and other dementias. In that regard, targeted effects of Indian Classical Music (Raga) are worth deciphering. In contrast to general emotional upliftment induced by other musical genres, Raga has an ability to evoke specific emotions based on its defined notational structure arranged in a specific ascending/descending order, and these effects are further magnified when the Raga is sung/performed at a designated time of the day based on its circadian specificity. Ragas containing the predominance of major notes are known to activate default mode network via induction of dopaminergic pathways and evoke cheerful/ happy emotions, causing mind-wandering and self-referential mental activity. On the other hand, the Raga becomes incrementally sentimental as the proportion of minor notes increase in a Raga structure. Ragas can affect brain activity, emotions, and autonomic functions. This review elucidates enhanced therapeutic potential of Indian Classical Music (Raga) as an advanced music therapy, that has an ability to exert Raga-specific health-effects in a circadian-specific manner. Raga therapy may be an effective disease-modifying treatment for treating AD and other dementias.

Keywords: Aging, Dopaminergic, Large-Scale Brain Networks, Alzheimer’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias, Music-based Interventions

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CHAUHAN, Neelima; GUJAR-KALE, Purva; KALE, Mahesh. Role of Indian Classical Music in Treating Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 6, june 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 july 2024. doi:
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